The cannabis plant component is wildly popular – and misunderstood.
KYLE WRIGHT WAS USED TO living in pain. The 31-year-old who lives in New York City regularly felt the repercussions of decades-old injuries from playing sports and bartending, and contended with the back and shoulder aches triggered by mild scoliosis.
Then, at a street fair in Denver, where he used to live, someone offered him a sample of CBD lotion, a product said to contain cannabidiol, one of the many chemicals found in the cannabis plant. (While medicinal and recreational marijuana contain CBD, the component itself doesn’t deliver the “high” that’s attributed to a different chemical, THC.) Wright gave it a shot. “I was really amazed at how effective the lotion was,” says Wright, who now runs a relationship coaching business with his wife. “About 15 minutes later, it felt like the tension had evaporated through my skin.”
Wright soon began buying CBD lotion and using it on his wrists, shoulders, back and neck – all areas that craved attention after long days tied to the computer. He continues to use a salve or lotion about twice a week and almost never uses Advil or ibuprofen, his former default remedies. “My joints felt looser, my muscles felt relaxed and the pain is significantly lessened,” Wright says.
Wright is far from the only one praising the power of CBD to treat pain and other ailments in what’s promoted as a non-addictive, side effect-free and non-psychoactive way. The Brightfield Group, a cannabis market research company, even projects the industry will reach $22 billion by 2022, thanks to people like Danielle Jenkins, a 29-year-old who works in nonprofit management in Telluride, Colorado, who says a topical CBD product was “the only thing” that helped certain leg muscles in the thigh after a hockey injury. Daisy Testa, a 31-year-old academic counselor in Chicago, also swears by CBD to relieve both stress and its associated neck pain. Mitchell Roth, a film producer in San Francisco, goes as far as to credit CBD for breaking his wife’s addiction to opioids, which she originally used to manage pain related to endometriosis. She’s now off both substances.
Some physicians are on board, too. Dr. Charlton Woodly, a podiatric surgeon in Texas who has no financial stake in CBD products, integrates CBD into patients’ recovery from surgery, breaks and sprains. “I use it in my practice because, unlike pain medications, such as Tylenol, CBD does not cause kidney or liver issues while providing the same pain relief,” he says. And Dr. Philip Blair, a family physician who serves as medical director of the CBD brand Elixinol, says he’s used CBD with over 2,000 patients after the research and his experience convinced him the substance, in fact, wasn’t too good to be true. Within minutes of giving a patient CBD, he says, “I see relaxation of their facial muscles, they become more expressive and spontaneous, their eyes get bigger and their shoulders relax. I hear a deep sigh of relief.”